By: Spencer Rouse
Hangtown Halloween Ball started for me with Kelly Finnigan of Monophonics asking the crowd if they felt good, building up the momentum until the crowd was in a near frenzy, ending their set with Sly and the Family Stone’s “Underdog”.
|Hangtown Halloween Ball by Beau Hause|
Delta Spirit brought a high energy mix of driving pop-sensible music with an edge. W ith both power and melodic chords, they ended the evening with songs like “Tear it Up” and "People C'mon".
The first late night of the festival saw Sergio Rios of Orgone taking a strong lead, lifting the crowd with his searing guitar licks, setting the pace for Stewart Killen’s looping and back driving rhythms on congas and spells of timbales, leading up to the dynamic stage presence of Niki J. Crawford.
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe followed, and sounded tight with many teasers of Saturday night’s Beastie Boys set taking the crowd 'til about 4am.
Saturday started with Andrew McConathy & The Drunken Hearts supplying good ole music with the rhythm of a train rolling down tracks, followed by The Congress who brought a bluesy rock feeling.
Mojo Green had the funk dialed in on the miniscule All Souls Stage. New drummer Fletch Fletcher from Headphone Union, and guitarist Tim Bain, trumpeter Monty Adams and the sultry soulstress Jenes Carter supplied soulful vocals, making me almost want to skip Orgone.
|The Infamous Stringdusters by Susan Weiand|
Ms. Crawford took command of the stage in her own undeniable way, and having her perform intermittently only compounds the desire to see her return after the scorching funk sessions. They were much tighter than the late night, ending with P-Funk’s Cosmic Slop.
Seattle’s Polyrhythmics, slammed through a 9-song smoking set with no weak sauce! Even Chris Littlefield from Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe joined in. This 8-piece with a 3-part horn section (tenor/flute, trumpet, trombone) brings elements of afrobeat, Latin, funk and jazz with enthusiasm and precision.
Dead Winter Carpenters played background music while I waited for the best set of the weekend, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe performing a tribute to the Beastie Boys featuring Kyle, DeLa and OG from Slightly Stoopid. They opened with “Paul Revere” and kept to the Licensed to Ill theme with “No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn” and “Brass Monkey”. Karl broke in to acknowledge the greatness of this music and gave respect to MCA.
The El Dorado Stage was adorned with Jack-o-Lanterns as our hosts, Railroad Earth, ended the night dressed in black with a beautiful and somber Dia de los Muertos theme. Their first set of the night started with passion as the air was still charged and gradually progressed as their theme became more apparent.
|Railroad Earth by Susan Weiand|
Sunday started with Greensky Bluegrass making you feel like Saturday night on the porch drinking moonshine, even if it was Sunday morning. The Infamous Stringdusters were up next, and their musicianship brought my eyes wide open. Sometimes here out west, we forget how technically talented those Virginia boys can be.
Jelly Bread brought a 3-piece horn section and a guest violinist. They are fronted by the mind-blowing drummer Cliff Porter and Dave Berry on guitar.
They exposed their infectious talent as they ripped through southern-fried funk, reggae and roots music with tracks from their No Dress Code album, like “Safe & Sane”, “JB Jazz” and “Infectious Grooves”, where they pay homage to modern masters of funk.
Overall, a great weekend with sweet people and nearly perfect staff and management. For a second year festival, I was very impressed. I can’t wait to go again!!
JamBase | Placerville
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